John William Cheever

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John William Cheever

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: Died in Ossining, Westchester County, New York, United States
Place of Burial: First Parish Cemetery, Norwell, Plymouth, MA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Frederick Lincoln Cheever and Mary Devereux Cheever
Husband of Mary Watson Cheever
Father of <private> Cheever; <private> Cheever and <private> Cheever
Brother of Frederick Lincoln Cheever

Occupation: Author, recipient of many literary awards
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John William Cheever

From Wikipedia:

John William Cheever (May 27, 1912 – June 18, 1982) was an American novelist and short story writer. He is sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs". His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Westchester suburbs, old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy, Massachusetts, where he was born, and Italy, especially Rome. He is "now recognized as one of the most important short fiction writers of the 20th century." While Cheever is perhaps best remembered for his short stories (including "The Enormous Radio", "Goodbye, My Brother", "The Five-Forty-Eight", "The Country Husband", and "The Swimmer"), he also wrote four novels, comprising The Wapshot Chronicle (National Book Award, 1958), The Wapshot Scandal (William Dean Howells Medal, 1965), Bullet Park (1969), Falconer (1977) and a novella Oh What a Paradise It Seems (1982).

His main themes include the duality of human nature: sometimes dramatized as the disparity between a character's decorous social persona and inner corruption, and sometimes as a conflict between two characters (often brothers) who embody the salient aspects of both – light and dark, flesh and spirit. Many of his works also express a nostalgia for a vanishing way of life (as evoked by the mythical St. Botolphs in the Wapshot novels), characterized by abiding cultural traditions and a profound sense of community, as opposed to the alienating nomadism of modern suburbia.

A compilation of his short stories, The Stories of John Cheever, won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and a National Book Critics Circle Award, and its first paperback edition won a 1981 National Book Award.

On April 27, 1982, six weeks before his death, Cheever was awarded the National Medal for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been included in the Library of America.

Early life and education

John William Cheever was the second child of Frederick Lincoln Cheever and Mary Liley Cheever. His father was a prosperous shoe salesman and Cheever spent much of his childhood in a large Victorian house, at 123 Winthrop Avenue, in the then-genteel suburb of Wollaston, Massachusetts. In the mid-1920s, however, as the New England shoe and textile industries began their long decline, Frederick Cheever lost most of his money and began to drink heavily. To pay the bills, Mary Cheever opened a gift shop in downtown Quincy—an "abysmal humiliation" for the family, as John saw it. In 1926, Cheever began attending Thayer Academy, a private day school, but he found the atmosphere stifling and performed poorly, finally transferring to Quincy High in 1928. A year later he won a short story contest sponsored by the Boston Herald and was invited back to Thayer as a "special student" on academic probation. His grades continued to be poor, however, and, in March 1930, he was either expelled for smoking or (more likely) departed of his own accord when the headmaster delivered an ultimatum to the effect that he must either apply himself or leave. The eighteen-year-old Cheever wrote a sardonic account of this experience, "Expelled," which was subsequently published in The New Republic.

Around this time, Cheever's older brother Fred, forced to withdraw from Dartmouth in 1926 because of the family's financial crisis, re-entered his life "when the situation was most painful and critical," as John later wrote. After the 1932 crash of Kreuger & Toll, in which Frederick Cheever had invested what was left of his money, the Cheever house on Winthrop Avenue was lost to foreclosure. The parents separated, while John and Fred took an apartment together on Beacon Hill, in Boston. In 1933, John wrote to Elizabeth Ames, the director of the Yaddo artist's colony in Saratoga Springs, New York: "The idea of leaving the city," he said, "has never been so distant or desirable." Ames denied his first application, but offered him a place the following year, whereupon Cheever decided to sever his "ungainly attachment" to his brother. Cheever spent the summer of 1934 at Yaddo, which would serve as a second home for much of his life.

Illness and death

In the summer of 1981, a tumor was discovered in Cheever's right kidney and, in late November, he returned to the hospital and learned that the cancer had spread to his femur, pelvis, and bladder. Cheever's last novel, Oh What a Paradise It Seems, was published in March 1982; only a hundred pages long and relatively inferior (as Cheever himself suspected), the book received respectful reviews in part because it was widely known the author was dying of cancer. On April 27, he received the National Medal for Literature at Carnegie Hall, where colleagues were shocked by Cheever's ravaged appearance after months of cancer therapy. "A page of good prose," he declared in his remarks, "remains invincible." As John Updike remembered, "All the literary acolytes assembled there fell quite silent, astonished by such faith." He died on June 18, 1982. The flags in Ossining were lowered to half staff for 10 days after Cheever's death.

Father: Frederick Lincoln Cheever b: 16 JAN 1865 in Lynn, Essex Co., MA Mother: Mary Devereux Liley b: 1873 in Brightside, Yorkshire, England Marriage 1 Mary Watson Winternitz b: 4 MAY 1918 in New Haven, New Haven Co., CTMarried: 22 MAR 1941 in New Haven, New Haven Co., CT

-------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cheever

John Cheever was a noted American author.

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John William Cheever (May 27, 1912 – June 18, 1982) was an American novelist and short story writer. He is sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs." His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Westchester suburbs, old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy, Massachusetts, where he was born, and Italy, especially Rome. He is "now recognized as one of the most important short fiction writers of the 20th century."[2] While Cheever is perhaps best remembered for his short stories (including "The Enormous Radio," "Goodbye, My Brother," "The Five-Forty-Eight," "The Country Husband," and "The Swimmer"), he also wrote a number of novels, such as The Wapshot Chronicle (National Book Award, 1958), The Wapshot Scandal (William Dean Howells Medal, 1965), Bullet Park (1969), and Falconer (1977).


His main themes include the duality of human nature: sometimes dramatized as the disparity between a character's decorous social persona and inner corruption, and sometimes as a conflict between two characters (often brothers) who embody the salient aspects of both – light and dark, flesh and spirit. Many of his works also express a nostalgia for a vanishing way of life (as evoked by the mythical St. Botolphs in the Wapshot novels), characterized by abiding cultural traditions and a profound sense of community, as opposed to the alienating nomadism of modern suburbia.


A compilation of his short stories, The Stories of John Cheever, won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. On April 27, 1982, six weeks before his death, Cheever was awarded the National Medal for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been included in the Library of America.

Bibliography (From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cheever )

  • The Way Some People Live (stories, 1943)
  • The Enormous Radio and Other Stories (stories, 1953)
  • Stories (with Jean Stafford, Daniel Fuchs, and William Maxwell) (stories, 1956)
  • The Wapshot Chronicle (novel, 1957)
  • The Housebreaker of Shady Hill and Other Stories (stories, 1958)
  • Some People, Places and Things That Will Not Appear In My Next Novel (stories, 1961)
  • The Wapshot Scandal (novel, 1964)
  • The Brigadier and the Golf Widow (stories, 1964)
  • Bullet Park (novel, 1969)
  • The World of Apples (stories, 1973)
  • Falconer (novel, 1977)
  • The Stories of John Cheever (stories, 1978)
  • Oh What a Paradise It Seems (novella, 1982)
  • The Letters of John Cheever, edited by Benjamin Cheever (1988)
  • The Journals of John Cheever (1991)
  • Collected Stories & Other Writings (Library of America) (stories, 2009)
  • Complete Novels (Library of America) (novels, 2009)
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John William Cheever's Timeline

1912
May 27, 1912
Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
1941
March 22, 1941
Age 28
New Haven, CT, USA
1982
June 18, 1982
Age 70
Ossining, Westchester County, New York, United States
June 22, 1982
Age 70
Norwell, Plymouth, MA, USA